UPDATE 7/26/16 – The remains of Randy Bilyeu have been found along the Rio Grande north of Cochiti Lake. The medical examiner will try to determine the cause of death.
Original story: Randy Bilyeu, 54, moved to Colorado two years ago to search for a $2m treasure that was hidden in the Rocky mountains by an eccentric antiquities dealer. On Jan. 5, Bilyeu set out on Jan. 5 on a raft to search for the treasure with his little dog, Leo. Going by the clues left by Forrest Fenn in a memoir he self-published called “The Thrill of the Chase” in 2010.
A worried friend waited patiently for Bilyeu to make contact but each day brought more worry. A missing person’s report was made on Jan. 15, 2016 when the friend told Bileu’s ex-wife, Linda, that he had made no contact.
|Randy and his dog, Leo|
Bilyeu is not the only one that has searched for the 40 pound box that consists of gold, jewelry and artifacts. It is estimated by Fenn by the posts on blogs and purchases of his book that about 65,000 other people have searched through New Mexico, Yellowstone park and other nearby places looking for the treasure he buried. For some the adventure has turned into misadventures as they have been rescued by forest rangers when they have found themselves out long after the sun has gone down or trapped by a rising river.
The following day after Linda reported Bilyeu missing his raft was found with his dog still there. The New Mexico Search and Rescue team searched by air and foot for him, they even went as far as to putting Leo on the raft in hopes he would help lead them to Bilyeu. Authorities knew by a map found in his car along with a sandwich that Bilyeu had spent some time planning his search, and didn’t intend to be gone that long. They also knew he had bought a compass and wet suit.
“We know that Randy studied this area very well. He even noted that certain areas were dangerous when the weather was bad and he had done quite a bit of research,” said Sacha Johnston, a treasure hunter helping to coordinate searches. “He wasn’t just randomly kayaking down the Rio Grande one day. He knew where he was going. He had a plan.” Was Bilyeu on to something? Was he close to finding the treasure?
Stepping in to help search for Bilyeu is someone who could answer that question but likely will not, the man who hid the treasure, Forrest Fenn. Fenn who is 85-year-sold isusing his own money to charter helicopters to search for Bilyeu. Many of the treasure hunters, as well, have joined in to search for Bilyeu as well.
“Every time we go out and don’t find Randy it’s discouraging, but we’re not going to give up. There are still places out there that I want to look,” Fenn told the AP.